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The Latest Samurai

Pandora Scooter takes on Japanese culture with comic highlights yet some lack of focus.

In “Samuraization,” solo performer and spoken word poet Pandora Scooter aims to take on nothing less than the meaning of death, and how it is perceived in Japanese culture -- in a funny way, no less. This is a tall order, and she takes a circuitous and unfocused route getting to her points on these big concepts.

Playing a scene recalling how as a precocious seventh-grader inspired by intense Japanese writer Yukio Mishima, she re-enacted a Samurai’s ritual suicide (seppuku) for a mime exercise, Scooter scores with the absurdity of such a dark act being depicted alongside classmates who mimed making peanut-butter sandwiches and other such innocuous everyday acts.

The comedy of this scene turns out to be a highlight of her one-hour-plus show, as some feints at making mistakes in her presentation turn out to be unwanted and unnecessary distractions. Asking her audiences to take part in playing funeral, after noting this is the one subject never seen when children play pretend, comes off more like an artistic experiment from inside Scooter’s head that never quite jells or resonates -- being very dependent on how an audience will react.

But another bit of interactivity that does work in this show, though, is when Scooter immerses herself in the character of a grandmother dispensing advice to “confront your death” and declaring each subject “fixed” once they’ve done so. This could easily be expanded as a recurring character.

Pandora Scooter has comedic acting talent which comes through in some of the segments in this show, but would benefit from collaboration to focus and clarify the themes she’s exploring.

“Samurizaition” runs 8 p.m. Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays through April 15 at Salon Bodegon, 169 W. Main St., Rahway, N.J. 



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